Michael Young is gone. What does that mean for how the 2013 Rangers will stack up?
Michael Young has been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, in exchange for Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla, with the Rangers paying $10 million of Young's salary.
With Young gone, the Rangers' salary obligations for 2013 are at around $105 million, including the estimated arbitration figures and paying the pre-arb guys.
The Rangers seem to have two significant moves coming -- acquiring a bat, most likely either Josh Hamilton or Justin Upton, as well as a starting pitcher, with Zack Greinke being the primary target. If we assume that the Rangers' payroll for 2013 is going to be in the $130-140 million range, then the Rangers aren't going to acquire both Hamilton and Greinke, although they could fit both in if they are willing to go to the $150 million range.
Here's where I think we see things end up:
C -- Geovany Soto
1B -- Mitch Moreland
2B -- Ian Kinsler
3B -- Adrian Beltre
SS -- Elvis Andrus
LF -- David Murphy
CF -- Leonys Martin/Craig Gentry
RF -- Hamilton/Upton
DH -- Nelson Cruz
As far as position players go, you still need a utility infielder, a backup catcher, and a righthanded caddy for Moreland and/or Murphy.
This assumes, however, that the Rangers keep Kinsler at 2B and put Jurickson Profar at AAA to start the season. Alternatively, they could start the season with Kinsler at 1B and Profar at 2B, which would likely mean either Mitch Moreland or David Murphy isn't on the team to start the season.
Some might say, well, Mike Olt could be the righthanded bench bat, but I think that's unlikely for a couple of reasons. First, I think Olt is likely gone by Opening Day, either to land Upton or to acquire another starting pitcher (if the Rangers can't sign Greinke). Secondly, if Olt is here, having him relegated to a part-time 1B/DH role isn't a real good use of his service time.
As far as the pitching staff goes, we have:
SP -- Yu Darvish
SP -- Mystery Pitcher
SP -- Matt Harrison
SP -- Derek Holland
SP -- Alexi Ogando
RP -- Joe Nathan
RP -- Tanner Scheppers
RP -- Robbie Ross
RP -- Michael Kirkman
RP -- Mystery Pitcher, Mystery Pitcher, Mystery Pitcher
Joakim Soria isn't listed in the bullpen, since he's not going to be ready to start the season. Kirkman is listed, as he's out of options, and the Rangers almost certainly keep him in the bullpen rather than lose him on waivers. Of the primary righthanded relievers from the 2012 squad, Koji Uehara is in Boston, Mike Adams is expected to sign elsewhere as a free agent, and Ogando is in the rotation, meaning there are ample holes to fill.
With Soria, Neftali Feliz, and Colby Lewis all due back at some point in 2013, and with the Rangers seemingly unlikely to devote a whole bunch of money to the remaining spots, I expect the first month or two of the season to be a tryout of sorts in the bullpen. I'd be shocked if, barring injury, those four pitchers I listed above aren't in the pen on Opening Day. You'll also have Cory Burns, Justin Grimm, Tommy Hottovy, and Rule 5 pick Coty Woods fighting for jobs, as well as minor league NRIs like Evan Meek and Randy Wells.
Of course, at this point last year, we weren't even raising the possibility of Robbie Ross being on the Opening Day roster, and he ended up being one of the team's best relievers.
In any case, I think we're seeing this team fall into place. Even if Hamilton returns, my guess is that it is as a corner outfielder, with Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry manning centerfield. If Hamilton doesn't return but Justin Upton is acquired, he's a corner outfielder, so you'll have the Martin/Gentry combo. Theoretically, the Rangers could land both Upton and Hamilton, which almost certainly means either Cruz or Murphy are gone, but that seems unlikely.